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Replica attractions worldwide

By andrewlos in Culture
Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 05:19:34 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

The BBC reports about the work of Adam Lowe (misspelt by them), an artist and printer who's working on scanning and recreating, to the finest detail, the remarkable tomb of Seti I.

The tomb is the Sistine Chapel of the Egyptian world and the implications of Lowe's work are far wider than they report.

"It will be an exact replica of the tomb to an accuracy of a tenth of a millimetre," says Lowe. But why stop at building it nearby? If the data is readily available, why not also build it alongside the Tutankhamun replica in Dorchester, or - more realistically - at the Luxor Hotel in Vegas?

This new application opens up a wide range of possibilities of incredibly accurate recreations for tourism.

It's not a new idea, of course. Miniature villages, local fairs, 'It's a small world' and the like have long taken the idea of copying famous attractions for the paying public. There's also a more recent history of large scale replicas. In 1993, China opened the World Park in Beijing, where one-tenth scale versions of Cheops' pyramid and the Leaning Tower of Pisa sit side by side, near a surprising number of American exhibits, including the Grand Canyon, Manhattan, NASA headquarters, the White House and Mount Rushmore though the replica Statue of Liberty has been banished following anti-American graffiti.

It was China again who strangely funded the reverse: Splendid China in Florida. A short drive from Disney World, this 76-acre park contains scale models of the Terracotta warriors, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Where the World Park has a 'Hollywood-style Cabaret', Splendid China hosts 'The Mysterious Kingdom of the Orient'. Splendid China is actually far from splendid - it's now in a highly dishevelled state, doing nothing to dispel rumours that it was built solely to give senior cadres a reason to holiday in the States on government funding.

Vegas has of course leapt into the idea of replication all the more whole-heartedly. A half-size the Eiffel Tower and full size Arc de Triomphe are in evidence here, although the most extravagant is surely The Venetian (Resort-Hotel-Casino). The brainchild of one Sheldon Adelson, building it wasn't easy. He took one look at the kilometre-long replica of the Grand Canal the day it was finished, and drained all 586,000 gallons because it was the wrong shade of green.

From the romantic Rialto Bridge to the famous St Mark's Square, Sheldon recreated it all, although he added a roof on St Mark's Square so it could be air-conditioned. The Square is about to be extended, so that The Venetian will in fact cover a wider area than the centre of Venice it pretends to imitate. Sheldon also fitted the gondolas with motors, so that the operatic-trained gondoliers could concentrate on singing romantic songs.

Still in the States, Nashville boasts its own complete, full-size Parthenon, containing a complete, undamaged recreation of the Elgin Marbles. And, lacking in its own druidic history, Stonehenge seems all over the place.

Replicas began as hugely popular representations of places and objects that people would never see. Now that airfares are cheaper than ever, are replicas now merely a poorly constructed shadow for those who can't afford to travel?

Italian author and academic Umberto Eco thought not. He wrote an essay 'Faith in Fakes' in 1975 (discussed here; it was reprinted in the excellent collection 'Travels in Hyperreality' in 1986) about America's obsession with counterfeit reality, looking at how the replicas he witnessed were trying to improve on, or soften the real thing. Certainly the modifications made in Nashville, Vegas et al fulfil this prediction. The Elgin Marbles are once again complete. The Venetian canals are clean and air-conditioned. The Luxor pyramid in Vegas is bigger than all but one in Egypt (and Luxor in Egypt doesn't even contain any pyramids). Even Seti's tomb will contain 'artifacts' that will probably never come together in the same place in reality. Reality improved.

But there is another way. Perhaps the most encouraging symbol of the future of cultural replicas can be found in Japan, at the incredible Huis Ten Bosch. It's an exact recreation of an 18th-century Dutch town built near Nagasaki, containing a futuristic ecological town plan.

The statistics alone are staggering: at an initial cost of $2.5 billion, 152 hectares of land about the size of Monaco was reclaimed from the coast near Nagasaki; 400,000 trees and 300,000 flowers (most of them tulips) were planted; 6km of canals dug and a full-size recreation of Queen Beatrice's Palace in the Netherlands was built and fitted out as a hotel and museum.

You receive a fake passport when you enter the theme park, and although there are small nods to technology more advanced than the spinning jenny (notably Animation World and the 3D cinema), the care to detail is everything. Japanese tourists, eager for any taste of the European lifestyle, lap it up. The average annual attendance is around four million.

It's all the Utopian vision of billionaire Yoshikuni Kamichika and the theme park is just the beginning. "In the next ten years," he said recently, "I want Huis Ten Bosch to become an intelligent town supported by high technology and a place where people can live comfortably, coexisting with nature." He expects a demand vastly exceeding the capacity of 30,000 residents for its initial stage.

Although Adam Lowe's work in Seti's tomb is solely towards a single end, perhaps the techniques he's pioneering are just the beginning of an era of clean, precise and unoriginal tourist destinations.

First printed on my blog, The Prandial Post. Adapted then reprinted here to avoid total server annihilation


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Are replica attractions a good thing?
o Yes 29%
o No 16%
o Sometimes 54%

Votes: 37
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o reports
o tomb of Seti I
o Tutankhamu n replica in Dorchester
o Luxor Hotel in Vegas
o World Park
o Splendid China in Florida
o the Eiffel Tower
o Arc de Triomphe
o The Venetian
o Parthenon
o all over the place
o here
o Huis Ten Bosch
o The Prandial Post
o Also by andrewlos

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Replica attractions worldwide | 18 comments (14 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1, To get the BDSM article off the front page (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by AnalogBoy on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 09:43:59 AM EST

Just kidding.   Though it is kind of embarassing to have that hanging around at work :)

Seriously, i love the idea of replicas of historical monuments.     I mean real historical monuments, not the inane crap we put up here and there.  In TN we have a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, -AND- a state park in his honor!

I'd like to see a full scale pyramid, up close, and "good as new".    I dont think we should be letting the monuments in Egypt degrade - we're destroying them by living our natural lifestyle around them, why not at least maintain the status quo, if not completely repair them..

$0.035 (TN Tax Law requires 1.5% increase. Rounding up.)

Save the environment, plant a Bush back in Texas.
Religous Tolerance (And click a banner while you're there)

TN (none / 0) (#4)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 10:12:46 AM EST

You also have the Parthenon!

[ Parent ]
i am a moron (none / 0) (#5)
by tps12 on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 10:13:35 AM EST

I see that it is in the article. :( Forgive me.

[ Parent ]
Inane? (none / 0) (#10)
by kurtmweber on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 05:47:24 PM EST

I would hardly consider a monument to General Forrest (or any other senior officer on either side of the war) to be "inane". Let's see...shot off his horse three times (I think); "Git thar fustest with the mostest"; pretty much mastered the art of the cavalry ambush...

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Point taken and rebuked.. (none / 0) (#14)
by AnalogBoy on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 09:57:31 PM EST

I can understand that, but I also believe that a person's life should be measured in total contribution, tallied and adjusted for accomplishments and impact on other peoples lives.    His lasting public legacy - the KKK, is far too awful to stand.  And though it arguably was not founded as a hate organization, again, its legacy speaks for itself.   It's indirectly assisted in the lynching and murder of countless minorities, lasting till this day.   Aiding and abetting ignorance is a high crime in my book.

That, and 1) not knowing how or when to die, 2) a COMPLETE lack of regard for the English language, give him a (-1, Flamebait) in my book.

Save the environment, plant a Bush back in Texas.
Religous Tolerance (And click a banner while you're there)
[ Parent ]

You know that disk? (1.00 / 1) (#8)
by medham on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 03:33:56 PM EST

The one they haven't deciphered? Phaistos, it is.

Well, I know the answer. I'll tell you if you've got the cash.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

What will France do... (4.00 / 1) (#9)
by khallow on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 04:23:56 PM EST

One of the most replicated monuments, at least in the US is the Eiffel tower. I know of three locations: the Paris casino at Las Vegas, NV, King's Dominion in Virginia, and Walt Disney World's Epcot center. I seem to recall that the Walt Disney one is one third scale and the other two are half scale. Eventually, some enterprising personality is going to build a larger Eiffel tower than the original. It's not that hard to do, and the original design (IMHO) is pretty sound and should scale up some. So this leads to the main question as to how France should deal with the problem: declare war, or send in French saboteurs?

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Larger than the original Eiffel Tower (none / 0) (#11)
by PresJPolk on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 07:31:24 PM EST

Tokyo Tower was modeled after the Paris original, only slightly taller.

[ Parent ]
Another Eiffel Tower... (none / 0) (#12)
by edwin on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 08:43:35 PM EST

...is in Prague. It's made of wood, and I think it's either 1/3 or 1/4 scale. Cute, though. There's a hall of mirrors at the bottom, for some bizarre reason.

[ Parent ]
How to react? (2.00 / 1) (#13)
by MKalus on Wed Jul 31, 2002 at 09:08:06 PM EST

I guess they could sue whoever is doing it citing the DMCA, after all how dare someone to re-engineer the Eiffel Tower?
-- Michael
[ Parent ]
Recreating the Eiffel tower (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Fred_A on Thu Aug 01, 2002 at 06:04:12 AM EST

The difficulty isn't in building a copy, it's in copying the view from the top :)

Fred in Paris
[ Parent ]

The French would... (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by dubious on Thu Aug 01, 2002 at 12:37:32 PM EST

surrender. Sorry, I know it is a well worn joke. :)

[ Parent ]
Odaiba Liberty (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by TON on Thu Aug 01, 2002 at 03:36:19 AM EST

I'm sure there are many Statues of Liberty scattered around the world, but I'm quite fond of this one on Odaiba. There is something distinctly odd about the bayview of Tokyo in the background of this icon.

It's quite the popular photo spot. No, this is not me (make sure to scroll down for photo). Poor Yama-san, getting scooped up by google image search onto K5.

"I could say it stronger
But it's too much trouble"

My 2 cents [Lascaux] (none / 0) (#18)
by bob6 on Fri Aug 02, 2002 at 09:01:03 AM EST

I'm not sure if replica are a good thing or not, but I can think of an example where it has been definitely a good one.
The Lascaux caves, France, were discovered in the 40's and quickly showed a great touristic and scientific value. However the increase of humidity and carbon dioxide endangers the paleolithic paintings. So field researchers study in the cave and tourists visit a partial replica of the caves.
The paintings use the texture and the bumpiness of the walls to add volume to the characters, so the copy was quite a challenge.

Replica attractions worldwide | 18 comments (14 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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